Christine Stansell

Anti-abortion views first entered presidential politics in 1980, seven years after Roe v. Wade, when Ronald Reagan embraced a “family values” agenda to run against Jimmy Carter. They’ve been the stock-in-trade of Republican candidates ever since, and, this year, a pro-life group called the Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List—more about them in a minute—has instituted an early gut-check, a “Pro-Life Presidential Leadership Pledge.” All of the candidates, except Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, and Gary Johnson, have signed it.

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Around the world past and present, women cover their heads before God and man. That is, they veil. A dispassionate list of veils would include nuns’ c

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Holy War

Christine Stansell explains the history of the Republican Party’s war on abortion and family planning.

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The heroic era of civil rights struggles is not remembered as a women’s movement, but watching the old news footage of some demonstrations—the Montgom

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Living in Rwanda After the Genocide By Jean Hatzfeld (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 242 pp., $25) The Antelope’s Strategy: Killing Neighbors: Webs of Violence in Rwanda By Lee Ann Fujii (Cornell University Press, 212 pp., $29.95) After Genocide: Transitional Justice, Post- Conflict Reconstruction and Reconciliation in Rwanda and Beyond Edited by Phil Clark and Zachary D.

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Margaret Fuller: An American Romantic Life Volume II: The Public Years By Charles Capper (Oxford University Press, 649 pp., $40) LIKE WALT WHITMAN, her slightly younger contemporary, Margaret Fuller was one to contain multitudes. No American woman of the pre-Civil War era--and no European woman of the era--wrote so brilliantly about so many things, while living so intently and intensely. For that matter, you would be hard put to think of a man who equaled Fuller's range of literary, intellectual, and political accomplishments.

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“THANK GOD for President Bush, and thank God for Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito,” intoned Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention last week, after the Supreme Court announced its decision in Gonzales v. Carhart, the so-called partial-birth abortion case. But Land also should have thanked Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose majority opinion dangerously reframes the abortion debate.   Kennedy doesn’t proceed from the question of harm to the unborn—the premise on which the congressional act in question is based.

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Sister Act

The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism By Megan Marshall (Houghton Mifflin, 602 pp., $28) “I am determined on distinction,” the teenaged Margaret Fuller vowed in 1825, as she made her first forays into Boston society. Elizabeth and Sophia Peabody, whom Fuller would soon meet, came of age in the same place and time with similar convictions. They were slightly older than Fuller, and much poorer, but they were determined to cultivate “genius.” For the first time in the Republic’s history, such hopes in a woman seemed dreamy, not mad.

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Born Losers: A History of Failure in AmericaBy Scott A. Sandage Harvard University Press, 362 pp. You might approach a book about losers with a certain hauteur. And Scott A. Sandage's opening anecdote about an unidentified loser who died in 1862 lends itself to your hunch that his book is going to be a dutiful trudge through a gallery of garden-variety failures. "I cannot help counting it a fault in him that he had no ambition," a friend grieved at the man's funeral. That's page one.

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What Stuff!

by Christine Stansell

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